Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Quinnipiac's Jolley Adjusts To Coaching World

Basketball has navigated Kevin Jolley well beyond his Washington, D.C. roots.

 Jolley got his streetball teeth cut on some of the toughest courts throughout Washington, D.C. and the DMV landscape.

 The former Quinnipiac forward’s collegiate and professional career featured stops in Maine, Kansas, Connecticut, Germany, Iceland,  Israel, Lebanon, and a wide range of countries across God’s green earth.

 Back on U.S. soil as an assistant coach at Colby Community College in Colby, Kan., Jolley feels he's right at home. He has no second thoughts about hanging up the kicks. He's always considered coaching and evaluating talent a viable career option.

 Jolley began his professional career with the loud bang of a windmill dunk.

He immediately surfaced as an offensive threat for team Lawrence (SBR) in the SB DJK Rosenheim Pro Basketball Club in Germany. Playing on a high-horsepower team that scored 90+ points, Jolley went from post player to strictly a scorer.

Manipulative post moves, a feathery mid-range jumper, and forays to the hoop enabled Jolley to score at will. Once the glaring knock on his game, Jolley refined his mid-range and deep jumper. He worked with a barrage of shooting coaches and adjusted his form.

A rapid rise in role followed. Jolley averaged a team-best 31.5 points per game, relishing a sudden uptick in minutes.

 “I came in and immediately played 37 minutes per game here, it was definitely a new opportunity. Coming from playing 11 minutes a game my last year at QU, I had more chances to score,” explained Jolley.

 While acclimatizing to Germany, the language barrier presented a challenge. Slowly, Jolley picked up on his teammates' puzzling talk.

He admitted to, however, feeling a bit left out during German conversation.

“The coach will talk and yell in German during the time outs, I’ll sit there and drink water and he’ll just turn to me and say ‘good job.’ It’s funny.”

Jolley's career took him to Lebanon, Syria, Saudia Arabia, Portugal, Jordan, Mexico, Luxembourg, Israel, Palestine, and Iceland.  

 “My career took off in Lebanon,” explained Jolley.

 “It was a well-respected league, good crowds, good pay, and there were a good deal of ex-NBA players in the league. I averaged 27 and 14 there and really came into my own.”

 A 6-foot-4 forward who dealt with mismatches throughout college,  Jolley's back to the basket moves helped him thrive.

 A player of Jolley’s make-up was sought after in the German league. Rife with rangy and slender outside shooters—many of whom steered clear of the driving lanes—the manpower in the post was needed.

During an unpredictable journey that landed him at Quinnipiac after a JUCO career, Jolley was groomed as a cleanup man.

His job under then-Quinnipiac head coach Joe DeSantis was simple: Grab rebounds, get hustle points, feed the post, and attack the rim on one-on-ones. Having played point guard in high school and the wing in college, he worked tirelessly to become multi-layered.
“I was used to scoring before I arrived at QU,” Jolley said. “I had to adjust to the role of what the coaches wanted me to do there.”

 With one of college basketball’s leading scorers in then-senior Rob Monroe operating the offense, Quinnipiac needed Jolley to rebound, rebound, and rebound some more.

 Monroe and Jolley, both from the D.C. area, helped morph their home city into a veritable Quinnipiac pipeline.

 Legendary Quinnipiac scorer DeMario Anderson, Jeremy Baker, Evann Baker, Louis Brookins, and a host of others all played significant roles for the Bobcats following Jolley and Monroe’s era.  

 Jolley was second in the conference in rebounding his junior season, pulling down eight boards per game.

 During his senior year, Jolley’s minutes dwindled. He played the 2005-2006 NEC campaign despite a torn anterior cruciate ligament.  The Bobcats struggled mightily his junior season. During his senior year, however, they ended a three-year playoff drought.

Stepping up while starting center Victor Akinyanju (one of the few players in Northeast Conference history to score 20+ and grab 20+ rebounds in a game) was sidelined with injuries, Jolley came on late.

 After Quinnipiac, Jolley did not want to conclude his career as a basketball player.

“I looked into a few other leagues in the states,” stated Jolley.

 He attended a Veterans Camp for Alex Wolff and the ABA’s Vermont Frost Heaves in Burlington, Vt. While there, Jolley played against former Vermont big man and one-time NBA prospect Taylor Coppenrath.

 “I played very well but I thought it would be more long term if I played out in Europe,” Jolley said.

 Now, following a well-traveled career, Jolley is engaged in his new challenge as a coach.

He’s settled in at his new hardwood home in Colby, in the same conference where he was once a player at nearby Hutchinson Community.

We caught up with Jolley, who spoke about his career and his new gig.

ZS: How did you land at Colby?


KJ: I played at Hutchinson Community College, which was ranked Top-5 in the country for Division-I JUCOS with our current head coach. I kind of wanted to give basketball up. After doing personal and private work outs all summer in LA, I figured I’d found a new niche.

ZS: What’s your role as an assistant?

KJ: I've been doing the same here one on one advance drills. I want to bring toughness that's always been within me.The team is looking good. We have a really good, blossoming player in Jeremiah Ingram from Detroit. He’s a returning sophomore receiving interest from numerous schools in the SEC. We also have some size at the guard spot and some good looking freshmen.

ZS: Tell me about the summer in L.A., what was the experience like doing individual workouts and one-on-one training?

KJ: I worked with Kevin Durant, it was cool seeing him after a few years. I worked with his brother and cousin, training with them and getting them ready for a few European camps. While he worked with a few NBA trainers, we worked in a guy who has a replica of the Staples Center in his house.

ZS: Best game as a Pro?

KJ: Has to be first game, after leaving from Germany to play in Lebanon. I was known as a big scorer. I played in front of maybe 5,000 crazy fans and had my best game of the season, 42 points and 22 rebounds.

ZS: Favorite place to play over the pond?

KJ: Well, I loved the Middle East.  Lebanon was my favorite place to play. It was the real thing. The food, basketball, women (laughs). They treated us like NBA players.

ZS: Toughest player you’ve ever guarded?

KJ: Man this would be a long list, considering everyone from the DMV area in the nba. Toughest guy was Deon Glover from Atlanta. He went to Georgia Tech and played for the hawks.. He played for the best team in Lebanon, I thought I had a chance (laughs). NO SIR... I did end up with 28 and 12 but nothing compares to his 56....Not all on me though (laughs).

ZS: How does your experience help you as a coach?

KJ: I've been around so many elite players and coaches.  I've built many friendships and professional relationships in the process, which has converted me to a student of the game as they like to say. Even while playing, I devoted extra time to breaking down film, checking out scouting reports, and studying my opponent. I remember being in my dorm room, highlighting a player's strengths while reciting his weaknesses. At that point, I pretty much knew coaching could be in my future.